KARE, virtual and VHF digital channel 11, is an NBC-affiliated television station licensed to Minneapolis, Minnesota, United States and serving the Twin Cities television market. The station is owned by Tegna, Inc. KARE's studios are located on Olson Memorial Highway (MN 55) in Golden Valley, and its transmitter is located in Shoreview, Minnesota.
Channel 11 signed on the air in 1953 with its broadcast hours split between WTCN-TV in Minneapolis and WMIN-TV in St. Paul; the WTCN-TV callsign was originally used by the Minneapolis-licensed channel 4 from that station's sign-on in 1949 to 1952; channel 4 changed to WCCO-TV when, in August 1952, Twin Cities Newspapers (a partnership between the Minneapolis Tribune and the Saint Paul Pioneer Press-Dispatch) divested its broadcast properties. The television station was sold to a new company, Midwest Radio and Television, which was created for the purchase, with CBS as a minority partner. CBS at the time owned WCCO radio; with the purchase of the TV station, channel 4's calls were unified with the radio station. Meanwhile, the Twin Cities Newspapers radio properties, WTCN (1280) and WTCN-FM (97.1), were sold to the Minnesota Television Service Corporation headed by Saint Paul businessman Robert Butler, a former ambassador to Cuba and Australia. Soon afterward, Butler's group and the owners of WMIN 1400 AM both applied for the new channel 11 license. Because the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) had a backlog of contested licenses, the two stations worked out an agreement for a joint application.
The FCC approved this deal and WTCN-TV/WMIN-TV went on the air on September 1, 1953 as an ABC affiliate. The station also carried a secondary affiliation with DuMont. During the late 1950s, the station also was briefly affiliated with the NTA Film Network. Under the agreement, the stations shared a transmitter mounted atop the Foshay Tower in downtown Minneapolis, alternating use every two hours. WTCN's studios were in the Calhoun Beach Hotel in Minneapolis near Lake Calhoun, while WMIN-TV was based in the Hamm Building in downtown Saint Paul. On April 3, 1955, with FCC approval, WMIN sold its share of Channel 11, and WTCN-TV took over the frequency full-time. On the same day, the WTCN stations were sold to the Bitner Group. Two years later, the Bitner group merged with Time-Life.
The early draw of WTCN-TV was its children's programs that featured characters like J. P. Patches, Skipper Daryl, Captain 11 (originally played by Jim Lange), Sergeant Scotty, Wrangler Steve (Steve Cannon, who would later become one of WCCO radio's biggest draws) and the most popular of all, Casey Jones, a train engineer played by Roger Awsumb and accompanied by his sidekick, Joe the Cook (Chris Wedes), succeeded by Roundhouse Rodney (Lynn Dwyer). The Lunch With Casey show originated on WMIN-TV and was on the channel 11 schedule from 1954 until 1972.
On April 16, 1961, KMSP-TV took the ABC affiliation and WTCN-TV became an independent station. As a traditional general entertainment station, channel 11 offered cartoons, sitcoms, old movies, Minnesota Twins baseball, locally produced shows, news and drama series. It was also home to the Twin Cities' first prime-time newscast, with its 10:00 p.m. newscast moving to 9:00 p.m. Chris-Craft Industries bought WTCN-TV in 1964; WTCN radio was sold later that year by Time-Life to Buckley Broadcasting and became WWTC. Under Chris-Craft, channel 11 modernized its newscasts; up to that time, they were still shot on film.
Metromedia purchased WTCN-TV in 1971 and made the station its fourth independent outlet, falling in line with the company's stations in WNEW-TV in New York City, KTTV in Los Angeles and WTTG in Washington, D.C.. After officially taking over the station in 1971-1972, channel 11 began using a new tower at the Telefarm site in Shoreview, Minnesota. The new transmitter increased the station's broadcasting range significantly, boosting its secondary coverage to 72 miles (116 km). In 1973, after 20 years at the Calhoun Beach Hotel, WTCN-TV moved to its current studio in Golden Valley. The address of the building was originally 441 Boone Avenue North, but is now known as 8811 Highway 55 (55427-4762)—the 11 corresponding to the station's channel.
In the mid-1970s, ABC—then enjoying its first run as America's top-rated television network—began looking for stronger affiliates across the country, and largely did so at the expense of third-place NBC. ABC surprised the industry in August 1978 by announcing it had signed an affiliation deal with KSTP-TV, ending that station's 30-year relationship with NBC. NBC then chose to affiliate with WTCN-TV after rejecting an offer from former ABC affiliate KMSP-TV. The three-way switch occurred on March 5, 1979. Metromedia sold about half of its cartoons and syndicated programming inventory to KMSP-TV, which replaced WTCN-TV as the Twin Cities' largest independent station and one of the most prominent in the upper Midwest. WTCN-TV was Metromedia's first (and only) station affiliated with the NBC network.
In 1983, Metromedia sold channel 11 to its new owner, the Gannett Company. Gannett made a significant investment into the station's news department. The anchor team of Paul Magers and Diana Pierce was hired that September and led the station's 10:00 p.m. newscasts for 20 years, which is a record among Twin Cities news anchors. The station's "Backyard" weather studio was also launched in 1983, coinciding with the arrival of meteorologist Paul Douglas in May.
On July 4, 1985, Gannett rechristened Channel 11 as WUSA, but after the company purchased WDVM-TV in Washington, D.C. the same year, it transferred the call letters to that station on July 4, 1986 and changed channel 11's call sign on the same day to the current KARE (acquired from an AM radio station in Atchison, Kansas) that sounds like "care".
On April 27, 2006, KARE became the first station in the Twin Cities to broadcast its local newscasts in high definition. As part of this transition, the station completely replaced its news set, originally built in 1986 and updated in the 1990s, with a new state-of-the-art backdrop. All newscasts continued to be presented in 4:3 (standard definition) as well as simulcast in 16:9 (high definition) until the federally mandated digital transition on June 12, 2009.
Around the first week of October 2012, Gannett entered a dispute against Dish Network regarding compensation fees and Dish's AutoHop commercial-skip feature on its Hopper digital video recorders. Gannett ordered that Dish discontinue AutoHop on the account that it is affecting advertising revenues for KARE. Gannett threatened to suspend KARE's contract with the satellite provider should the skirmish continue beyond October 7 and Dish and Gannett fail to reach an agreement. The two parties eventually reached an agreement after extending the deadline for a few hours.
On June 29, 2015, the Gannett Company split in two, with one side specializing in print media and the other side specializing in broadcast and digital media. KARE was retained by the latter company, named Tegna.
|TV stations in Minnesota|
|TV stations in Central Minnesota including Minneapolis, St. Paul, and Brainierd|
|KTCA 2 (PBS)|
WCCO 4 (CBS)